Spider-Man 4 cancellation frees up Warcraft movie director

Sony Pictures' scrapping of superhero movie could mean an earlier-than-expected start to Sam Raimi's big-screen adaptation of Blizzard series; effect on Activision's upcoming Spider-Man game unknown.

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One week after the movie was reportedly delayed for months, Spider-Man 4 has now been postponed...forever. Sony Pictures has officially pulled the plug on the troubled production, instead opting to reboot the series a la Batman Begins. According to a press release from the company, the new film will be based on a script by James Vanderbilt (Zodiac) and will be set during Peter Parker's high school days. It will not star Tobey Maguire, who has played Parker in the last three Spider-Man films.

The last Spider-Man game was 2008's comic-book-based Web of Shadows.

Despite reports of acrimony between himself and Sony, director Sam Raimi gave the upcoming project his official blessing. "Working on the Spider-Man movies was the experience of a lifetime for me," he said in a statement. "While we were looking forward to doing a fourth one together, the studio and Marvel have a unique opportunity to take the franchise in a new direction, and I know they will do a terrific job."

Besides unsettling the comic-book-fan diaspora, the Spider-Man 4 cancellation has a direct, twofold impact on the game industry. First, it may scuttle any game that was being developed as a tie-in to the film at Activision, which holds the Spider-Man license. Though the company has not responded to inquires about any such movie-based project, its executives have said that a game featuring the titular webslinger is planned for later this year. Activision's last Spider-Man game, 2008's well-reviewed Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, was based directly on the Marvel comic book property, not any film adaptation. However, Activision did publish games based on all three Spider-Man films for a variety of platforms.

The second piece of fallout from the scrapping of Spider-Man 4 is that it frees up Sam Raimi to work on the forthcoming movie set in the Warcraft universe. Last July, the Evil Dead director signed on to helm the project, which is being written by Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan) and developed by Legendary Pictures (300, The Dark Knight) for movie studio Warner Bros.

World of Warcraft developer-publisher Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Activision Blizzard, is helping in the movie's production. Its senior vice president of creative development, Chris Metzen, is on board as coproducer. Unfortunately, Blizzard reps are currently not offering updates on the Warcraft film's status.

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